Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pricy Pepperoni

Eighteenth Stop: Raniero’s
Date: June 13, 2012
Location: 28 Martha Layne Collins Boulevard, Cold Spring, KY
Ranking: 48

We had kind of been avoiding Raniero’s for awhile, and for various reasons.  The day that we finally planned to cross it off of the list, it looked like our dinner may not come to fruition.  Courtney was stuck in horrible traffic from Mason to Raniero’s Cold Spring location, not far past NKU.  Of course, she had also left her cell phone at home that day, so therefore could not communicate this delay to Robyn.  She ended up being almost a full half hour late.  Being the awesome, patient friend that she is, Robyn waited.  By the time we were both there, our stomachs were growling.  This day surely warranted an appetizer.

We walked right in and were given our choice of seats.  We selected a high top table, ordered our drinks, and promptly perused the starter selections.  When we looked at the menu, it stated that they served Pepsi products.  We wanted Cokes, but both ordered Mountain Dew instead.  When we told our server this, she surprised us by saying that even though the menu says otherwise, they only serve Coke products.  Score!

There were a few things that stood out:  the standard yet typically delicious Garlic Knots, the Bosco Sticks (cheese-filled breadsticks), and the Luigi Snackers (kind of like a pizza hot pocket).  However, what really caught our eye were the Queso Cheez Stix, which promised to give us crunchy tortilla snackers filled with warm queso.  Our waitress fully endorsed this selection, so we decided to give it a go, turning a blind eye to its ridiculous spelling.  Pizza-wise, we decided to go simple this round, and selected Zia’s Pepperoni Pie.  This pizza promised to bring us pepperoni “stacked high and side-to-side”.  Sometimes, that is all a pair of girls need. 
Apparently we ate three of these before remembering to take a picture. 
 Honest reaction:  the Queso Cheez Stix (ok, that is impossible to write without cringing) were good enough for a seemingly frozen appetizer.  We were hungry, so not all that picky, and we had no problem splitting these up and finishing them off.  However, we realize that it was not the most delicious of appetizers.  These surely are not fresh; we both believe that they originally hailed from the freezer section.  Accompanying six of these deep-fried treats was a little cup of salsa, likely of the Pace or Kroger brand variety.  We’re really not complaining about these – they were completely edible, and we were so hungry that we did not care.  However, it is something to note if you are in the market for a unique, homemade appetizer.  In that case, this is not the appetizer for you.  It’s also not for you if you hate purposeful misspellings (Cheez.  Stix.  Ugh). 

They might as well call them Kaysoh Cheez Stix.

Then came our pizza.  And folks, this is really the first time that we disagreed on a pizza.  Courtney liked it fine.  It was just a good, standard pepperoni pizza.  It had a good, greasy flavor that you expect from this classic pie.  The pepperoni itself was zesty, just as the menu promised.  Robyn, on the other hand, did not care for this pizza at all.  She ate it – just as with the Queso Stix, it was edible – but she really didn’t enjoy it.  Nothing about the pizza stood out or even hit the spot, and she was disappointed in pretty much every aspect of the pizza, which bummed her out.  While Robyn is the deeply in love with some greasy kinds of pizza (see: Jet’s), she did not like the amount or flavor of grease that seemed to be pooling all over the plate and seeping through the crust alarmingly.      

The whole shabang.

After Robyn sopped up excess grease with a napkin.

Now, back to agreeing.  We both agree that this pizza was a rip-off.  As aforementioned, this pizza description promised this specialty option to be “stacked high and side-to-side with zesty pepperoni”.  Only the zesty part of this description is correct; the pepperoni was not that prevalent.  There was really just a normal amount on it, which kind of pisses us off.  Our 12-inch pizza was $13.95.  Before seeing this pizza, Courtney had placed a to-go order for a large, 16-inch of the same variety.  This one was $19.95.  Twenty dollars for a pepperoni pizza?  It just seems like a bit much.  In drafting this post, Courtney checked out their menu again and saw that you can order a 16” “Pizza by the Pie” with one topping (example: pepperoni) for $16.50.  We are willing to bet that the difference in the amount of pepperoni between that and the Zia’s specialty kind is minimal.  Keep this in mind and save yourself some money if you’re ever in the mood for a simple pepperoni pizza from Raniero’s. The Zia is not worth it!  It is worth noting, however, that they seem to have good combo deals (under $5) if you’re looking for just a plain slice or two and a drink.   
Does ANYONE think this pepperoni is stacked "high and side-to-side"?

I suppose Raniero’s could have been a better experience; perhaps we just didn’t order the right things.  We’ve both heard good things from many different people (we actually ran into two different couples that we know just in our quick visit), so the place must be doing something right.  We understand that other appetizers choices are decent.  In fact, when we ran into our friend Jeff there that evening, he provided us with this quote:  “Who needs Mario when you’ve got Luigi Snackers?” The service was quality, and the atmosphere (an old Blockbuster) is nice for a pizza parlor/bar.  It is also worth noting that Raniero’s offers a 24” Pizza Challenge in which two collaborating contestants struggle to consume a 24” cheese pizza in less than 10 minutes.  If they finish within the allotted time, their pizza is on the house; if not, they must fork up the dough.  From the looks of their site, it looks like they are trying to petition this contest for Man v. Food.  Courtney’s brother has actually championed this feat, and has his picture framed on the Raniero’s wall.  Her family is very proud.

Here’s our biggest takeaway from our Raniero’s experience:  it’s expensive.  We’ve not had any complaints, really, about pizza pricing until this point.  Some places are more than others, but some are also better than others, or perhaps provide more quality ingredients (some of which are very noticeable).  At Raniero’s, we went about as simple as we could, but that wasn’t reflected in the price, and unfortunately the price wasn’t balanced with the quality. If you have $20 to spend on a pepperoni pizza, you’re probably better off going somewhere that offers you either better pizza, or the ability to add side items for that amount.

Raniero's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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